As corporate events go virtual, it’s game on!

If the term ‘gamification’ conjures up images of teenagers sitting in darkened bedrooms, think again. Gamification has gone corporate. In fact, in the corporate meetings and events sector it is a sophisticated and exact science helping businesses engage with their audience.  With more meetings and events happening in the virtual world, gamification has become a strategic, targeted and fun tool to help drive delegate engagement.

But let’s take a step back – what is gamification? Put simply it is an online game, competition or app that uses a game-like structure or format to encourage delegates to engage more fully with the content of your conference or meeting. For example, virtual delegates might use gamification to be rewarded for attending conference sessions, answering questions or completing a challenge – often earning ‘points’ towards a prize or reward.

FCM Meetings & Events has been harnessing the power of gamification for its clients for a number of years – and also very recently for the corporate division of parent company, Flight Centre Travel Group. Originally planned as an in-person event, the Illuminate 2021 conference pivoted to online when travel restrictions were imposed. While the circumstances were out of their hands, the change in format enabled the production team at FCM Meetings & Events to shine.

With fab prizes on offer, such as international flights and accommodation, Illuminate 2021 used gamification to encourage delegates to explore and connect with the content, sponsors and attendees. The key, according to Christian Marchand, FCM Meetings & Events Senior Producer, is to “design games that have a purpose, drive a strategic message and link back to the content or sponsor you wish to highlight.

“For each client we design gamification that rewards the behaviour they want to see or achieve. By including incentives delegates can be encouraged to do certain things – like answer questions, request a live chat or attend a live virtual presentation. Then we can create a prize leader board, so delegates can see their progress in the game,” Christian said.

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Popular gamification tools include virtual scavenger hunts, photo booths and live trivia style quizzes. Other favourites include Memory Card or Myth Buster style games, which can be used to educate the audience about a product or sponsor by having them select which fact is correct. These interactive games prompt the audience to subconsciously learn about a brand as they play and can be tailored with on-screen pop-up boxes to deliver specific messages.

 “But apart from delivering a sponsor’s or client’s message, gamification can simply be a fun way to entertain and engage delegates to keep them engaged throughout an event or to attract them to an exhibitor or sponsor stand,” Christian said. “Such as the Candy Crush-style game we developed called Baggage Carousel Mania – everyone can relate to that!”

For event and meeting organisers, gamification is also a great way to successfully attract sponsors by promoting its unique ability to achieve brand activation in the virtual world. A game can be easily customised with a sponsor’s logo and branding, to drive traffic to their business while also having an element of entertainment.

Plus for both sponsors and event organisers, gamification delivers very powerful analytics. Data can be collected in real time to determine who is participating, which sessions are the most popular and how many delegates visited a sponsor’s virtual exhibition. This unique ability to track activity and measure engagement, means post-event analysis can be used to help improve future events.

Speaking of the future – what trends does Christian see emerging in 2022 and beyond? “I think we will see more hybrid events, with both in-person delegates and virtual attendees, working seamlessly together,” Christian said. “The use of apps which sync in-person delegates with the virtual platform, is allowing them to access the same gamification opportunities as the delegates online. Plus we will see more complex and interactive events and more use of 3D technology – especially as we engage with younger, more tech-savvy delegates.”

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